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"St. Andrew's, April 13, 1824.
"My dear Sir;
"It is with feelings of a very peculiar nature, that I sit down at present to write to you. Since I saw you last I have been admitted a member of a Christian church. I determined to write to you at present for several reasons. I have long considered you as one of my best friends, and as a sincere servant and follower of Jesus Christ; and your preaching was the first instrument in the hand of God, of leading me to think seriously of an eternal world. To you, therefore, I have determined to reveal every feeling, and to open the recesses of my heart.
"My first impressions of danger, as a sinner, were caused by a sermon you preached on a Lord's day evening, about a year and a half ago. At the time, I was very much affected; it was then, I think, that I first really prayed. I retired to my apartment, and with many tears confessed my guilt before God. These impressions were followed by some remarkable events in the providence of God, which struck me very forcibly. About that time, I had a proof of the inability of earthly wisdom and learning to confer true happiness, by the melancholy death of Mr. Moncur. On leaving my father's house to come here, shortly after, I felt myself in a peculiar manner dependant on Jehovah. I was removed from the care of my earthly father, and from the intercourse of my earthly friends; and I felt great pleasure in committing myself to him who is the Father of the fatherless, and a Friend to those that have none. My companion used to join me morning and evening in the reading of the Scriptures, and prayer. In these, and in attending on
the more public exercises of God's worship, I had some enjoyment, and from them, I think, I derived some advantage. On my return home, however, last summer, I began to feel less pleasure in these employments; they began to be a weariness to me, and were at last almost totally neglected. My soul reverted to its original bent, and the follies of this world wholly engrossed my attention. Had I been left in that state, I must have inevitably perished. But God is rich in mercy; he delighteth not in the death of the wicked. In his infinite mercy, he has again been pleased to call my attention to the things of eternity. For some months back, I have been led to see the utter worthlessness of earthly things;to see that happiness is not to be found in any earthly object;-that
""Learning, pleasure, wealth, and fame,
And I think I have been led to seek it where alone it is to be found,-in 'Jesus crucified for me.' I have felt great pleasure in Communion with God; and I have felt some love, though faint, to the Saviour, and to his cause. Í have had a long struggle with the world. I have counted the cost, and I have at last resolved that I will serve the Lord. I have long been kept back from openly professing my faith in Jesus from an apprehension lest my future conduct might bring disgrace on the religion of the Saviour. But I have begun to think that this proceeds, in a great measure, from self-confidence, and from not trusting implicitly to the promises of God. He that hath brought me thus far, will not now forsake me; He that hath begun a good work will perfect it until the end.
"On Thursday se'nnight, after imploring the Divine direction, I felt it my duty to apply for admission to a Christian church; since then, I have conversed with two of the members; and, being proposed last Lord's day, I was received into their number. I have thus, my dear Sir, as far as I can, related to you without reserve, my various feelings, and my state of mind since I first was impressed with a sense of the importance of religion. I have yet many doubts whether I have been really renewed by the grace of God. Of this my future life must be the test. I see many temptations in my way, and I feel that I am not able in myself to withstand them. May God perfect his strength in my weakness, and may he enable me to live henceforth, not to myself, but to Him who died for me, and who rose again; to my body a living sacrifice, and to devote all the faculties of my mind to his service. And now, my dear Sir, pray for me, that He who is able to stablish me according to the preaching of Christ Jesus, may keep me from falling, and make me in the end more than a conqueror. At present, farewell; I hope to see you soon. Give compliments to Mrs. Orme, to my parents, and all friends, from
"Your very affectionate."
"P. S. You may, perhaps, think I have been rash in joining myself to the church here, when I have a prospect of returning to you in so short a time. I can only say that I felt it my duty to apply immediately, that I have before experienced the danger of procrastination, and that I consider it much the same whether I be in the first instance connected with the church here, or with that in
Perth, and that our friends here were all of the same opinion. In connecting myself with that body of christians, to which you and my parents belong, I think I have not been influenced by the prejudices of education, but by a sense of duty, and the writings of the apostles themselves."
This letter bears all the marks of the most ingenuous and candid disclosure of the leadings of Providence, and the workings of his own mind. It shows the gradual and pleasing manner in which he had been led to receive and obey the truth; and that although he had been much engaged in literary and scientific pursuits, and ardently attached to them, the powerful operations of the Divine Spirit had carried forward the process of illumination and conviction, till it at last issued in his decided conversion to God. His reasons for taking the step which he had adopted, were those by which he appears to have been invariably influenced in his religious course. He first sought to ascertain what was the will of God; and on arriving at a satisfactory conclusion on this point, he was then prepared to encounter all difficulties which stood in the way of full compliance with it. He delayed not, but hastened to keep the commandment.
How much it is to be regretted that prudential considerations, or sinful timidity, induce many individuals, long after they have received the truth, to keep at a distance from the fellowship and ordinances of the Church of Christ. Instead of looking at the command of God, and considering the shortness and uncertainty of human life, they allow year after year to pass away in inquiring and doubting; or resolving and calculating,
instead of deciding and acting. The consequences are a deprivation of personal comfort, to a great extent; the formation of habits most unfavorable to the decision of religious character, and injuries of various kinds being done to the souls of
It is as clear as possible, that at the beginning, no sooner did men believe the Gospel, than they associated together for the observance of all the institutions appointed by Christ in his church. There was then no neutral ground on which they could stand, between the world and the church of God. No man is recognized in the New Testament as a Christian, who is not a member of a Christian society. Yet not a few can reconcile themselves to remain in the perfectly anomalous situation of doing all that Christianity seems to require, but making that profession of it which lies at the foundation of every thing else.
I am aware that human barriers have sometimes been presented, by which some have been improperly kept at a distance from the fellowship of the Gospel, who ought to have been welcomed into it. But I fear, in the majority of instances, the evil is to be traced to erroneous ideas of the Gospel, inadequate impressions of divine authority, and a want of that firm and decided principle, which, wherever it exists, will conquer trivial and even considerable difficulties Providence is frequently pleaded as an excuse, while its arrangements are only putting our sincerity and principles to the test. As he who observeth the clouds will
not sow, SO he that will not go forward in doing
the will of God till all difficulties are removed out of the way, will always find something to hinder him.